The DIY Customer: Why Banks Need to Help Customers Help Themselves Where and When They Want

by Richard Simons, CEO of Creative Virtual US

Banking and investment customers today demand the ability to perform all possible functions themselves – from depositing checks, checking balances, trading stock, transferring funds and paying bills. Using the telephone to handle these basic requests has become archaic with customers moving online. However, with rapid advancements in mobility, that desire has extended to smartphones forcing companies to redesign their customer service strategies to meet customer needs no matter where they choose to engage.

The definition of customer service now has to include the words “fast” and “relevant.” No longer are customers content with generic answers to their questions. Instead, they want instant access to information that will help them make better decisions and blend seamlessly with their lifestyle. Whether it is online access, talking live to a customer service rep or getting a direct message via Twitter, customers are not willing to wait around for the right answer. As a result, today’s organizations are tasked with employing a scalable, multi-channel personalized solution that adequately engages its customer base. Here are some of the trends financial institutions should be thinking about.

  • Mobility Uprising. Banking on-the-go has exploded on the scene. Customers now want access to their accounts from their smartphones and tablets. Services like Chase Quick Pay or mobile remote deposits have provided an added level of convenience that extends the relationship with the customer and aims to make banking hassle-free. As banks continue to expand their mobile app capabilities and service levels, they can simultaneously improve efficiencies and reduce costs if they choose the right implementation.
  • Deeper Integration. While many banks are embracing mobile and social channels as part of their core strategy, these tools are often developed in silos within the organization. This leads to inconsistencies which are passed on to the user in the form of limited or incorrect information. Customers think of your organization as one entity and are not concerned with “how you operate.” Instead, they simply want fast and accurate answers to their questions no matter where they sit in your system. By using tools and services that put the right information at your fingertips, you encourage customers to do more online and improve the overall experience.
  • Multi-channel Opportunities: No channel stands alone. However, your web presence serves as an anchor to your mobile and social implementations. Mobile can be a powerful marketing channel if utilized to create a strong 1:1 relationship with your customers. Using individual behavior to recommended products that will save them money or increase net worth are fantastic opportunities for banking organizations to engage more deeply with their customers. Similarly, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are great at formulating relationships with groups on a more personal level. Therefore, focus on the primary customer objective – to be helpful to your customers anytime they want to reach you.

When implemented correctly, mobile customer service puts banking and investing brands within reach of their customers’ lifestyle, and drives down costs. For example, a well-known US-based online financial firm, reduced live chat volumes by over 80% with our V-Person™ implementation in just 10 ten months. Moreover, they were able to reduce escalations down to 5% of conversations using a virtual agent. When they extend to mobile devices, they will have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and earn consumer capital to boot.

Having a system that can pool your collective knowledge and deliver your brand promise will be a competitive advantage in your quest to acquire and retain customers. After all, you have the most valued relationship of any business to a customer. Their money is your hands.